David Sharaz has threatened to sue a business executive who questioned the legitimacy of his fiancée Brittany Higgins’ rape claims – just weeks before he was accused of ‘trolling’ and defaming Senator Linda Reynolds in a series of tweets.
Sharaz, 29, supported Ms Higgins in person in the ACT Supreme Court during the high-profile trial against her accused rapist, Bruce Lehrmann, in October last year.
She alleged Mr Lehrmann raped her in Canberra’s Parliament House after a night out in March 2019, however, the four-week hearing was aborted due to misconduct by a juror.
The case was then dropped altogether by the ACT Director of Public Prosecutions in November due to concerns about Ms Higgins’ mental health. Mr Lehrmann has continually denied the allegations against him.
The trial was widely reported in the media and has become the subject of ongoing discussion among social media users.
Last month, a consultant from Queensland weighed in on the conversation in a LinkedIn post.
David Sharaz supported his fiancée Brittany Higgins during the high-profile trial against her accused rapist
A business executive used LinkedIn to question the legitimacy of Brittany Higgins’ rape claims (pictured)
He pointed out that Ms Higgins signed a $325,000 book deal with a major publisher before she finished giving her statement to police – echoing a key argument presented to the court by Mr Lehrmann’s defence lawyer during the trial.
‘Brittany Higgins comes clean after accusing her work college of rape,’ the user wrote.
‘The accused faces a dismal future while his accuser collects a $300,000 cheque from the publisher for her memoirs, and awards from the Prime Minister.
‘Who is right and who is wrong?’
Weeks after the post was published, Sharaz fired back – claiming it was inaccurate and defamatory.
The businessman mistakenly claimed the ACT Director of Public Prosecutions Shane Drumgold said during the trial that Mr Lehrmann had ‘no case to answer’.
In actual fact, he was referring to an article published by The Australian in early December which claimed senior police officers in the ACT did not believe there was enough evidence to prosecute Mr Lehrmann.
In any case, the inaccuracy does not defame Ms Higgins.
David Sharaz told the business executive that the post was ‘defamatory’ in two comments (pictured)
In his response to the post, Sharaz said: ‘This isn’t remotely accurate and actually defamatory.’
The user replied: ‘My opinion has been formed without malice, more like sorrow. My apologies for my opinion David.’
Sharaz said: ‘Your opinion is factually incorrect and you’ve opened yourself up to the risk of being sued for defamation.’
Another user then chimed in and asked Sharaz to respond to a series of texts that were read in court, where Ms Higgins joked with her ex-boyfriend about starting a ‘sex scandal’ in parliament. Sharaz did not reply.
It comes just days after Senator Linda Reynolds filed a writ with the WA Supreme Court claiming Sharaz defamed her in two tweets published in 2022.
Senator Reynolds was Ms Higgins and Mr Lehrmann’s boss at the time of the alleged incident, and has been a prominent figure in the case since the allegations were first published in 2021.
The senator is seeking damages and aggravated damages from Sharaz, and demanding he covers the cost of legal proceedings.
She also asked for an injunction which would prevent future publication of the tweets.
Linda Reynolds (above) claims two tweets shared by David Sharaz last year were falsely defamed her
Sharaz deactivated his Twitter account on Friday, but his profile was reactivated again by Monday afternoon.
‘For the best part of the last two years I have been the subject of harassing and highly distressing trolling on social media regarding myself and my conduct in respect of events concerning Ms Brittany Higgins which has damaged my reputation and caused me, my family and my staff, considerable stress and anguish,’ Senator Reynolds told The Australian.
‘Mr Sharaz has been a constant participant in the trolling.
‘In light of the conclusion of the criminal trial and the resolution of the civil action involving Ms Higgins and the Commonwealth, I am now at liberty to take steps to vindicate my reputation and provide some truth to the matters the subject of these trolling comments.’
Sydney-based law firm Arnold Bloch Leibler confirmed to WA Today it will be advising Sharaz.
Just weeks earlier Reynolds filed a lawsuit against publisher HarperCollins for lines in journalist Aaron Patrick’s book Ego: Malcolm Turnbull and the Liberal Party’s Civil War.
The book mostly focuses on fighting within the Liberal Party and the relationship between former Prime Ministers Malcolm Turnbull and Scott Morrison but also touches on some of the party’s recent scandals, including Ms Higgins’ rape allegation.
During the trial, Reynolds was questioned by prosecutor Mr Drumgold over texts she sent to Mr Lehrmann’s defence team during Ms Higgins’ cross-examination.
The texts appeared to suggest a line of questioning for Mr Lehrmann’s team to follow however Reynolds denied claims she attempted to ‘coach’ them.
She claims comments made in Patrick’s books are defamatory, including one passage which suggests Reynolds told Higgins her alleged rape was ‘the cost of being female’.